Defining Specialty Coffee

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What is Specialty & Specialty Grade Coffee?

Specialty Coffee versus Specialty Grade Coffee……yes, there is a difference.

​The Specialty Coffee Chronicle says the market share of specialty coffee is 51 percent, passing non-specialty for the first time.  But the term “specialty” has morphed in definition from the original.  Most people equate specialty coffee with specialty, espresso based coffee drinks which justifies the statistic quoted.

The SCAA or Specialty Coffee Association of America describes true specialty grade coffee as “having a maximum of 5 defects in a standard sample with all cups free of all taints and showing distinctive positive characteristics”. Go to www.scaa.org for more on the SCAA’s definition.

On the above basis , it is estimated that no more than 5% of green coffees in the world could make specialty grade.

From how the beans are produced, the great care taken in the packaging and storage of those beans, and the highly skilled roasters that deliver the finished product–this coffee is about an experience, not just a no frills cup of joe.

There are a lot of factors that make specialty grade coffee–well–special, so let’s take a moment to unpack all of that in one place.

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